Ariya Jutanugarn will compete as the top-ranked player in the field at the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic. The World No. 2 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings missed the cut at last week’s KPMG Women’s PGA Championship by a single stroke, her first missed cut since the first event of the 2016 season (six wins and 19 additional top-10s in that span).
“I had lots of time last week,” Jutanugarn said. “I know I had a bad day on Thursday, but I just like had a really good day on Friday, and I’m really proud of myself to be like trying to do my best and play better golf on Friday and be working on the same things. Just like last week, I didn’t really have good commitment, so this week just work on like trying to have a better commitment.”
In 2016, Ariya Jutanugarn set a new record for most birdies in a single season with 469, passing Stacy Lewis’ mark in 2014 by nine. At the midway point of the 2017 season, Ariya leads the Tour with 236 birdies, one ahead of her sister, Moriya. Aka “Mo,” the 2013 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year is having a breakout season in her own right with six top-10 finishes which already surpasses her career-high in a season by four.
“I’m really, really happy for her because she’s a really good player, and she keeps playing so good,” said “May” of her older sister. “She works so hard, and she deserves to play good. Maybe she played one more tournament more than me. I still beat her with birdies, though, so that’s a good thing.”
Wisconsin-native Casey Danielson headlines a trio of Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic sponsor invites. She will be making her professional debut in Green Bay following a stellar collegiate career at Stanford University.
Her hometown of Osceola is five hours away from Green Bay, but the Danielson name is well known throughout the state of Wisconsin. Casey’s older sister Lindsay, became the first player in Wisconsin to win four Division 2 WIAA state high school championships while at Osceola High School, until her sister duplicated the feat in 2012. Making for eight straight state championship titles for the sisters. Casey’s older brother Charlie won two high school titles, giving the Danielson family a whopping total of 10.
While at Stanford, Danielson was team captain and a member of the 2015 NCAA Champion team, but she’s not putting any pressure on herself this week. “I’m just looking to learn,” she said on Wednesday. “I know I’ve got a lot to learn, both about how to handle myself on Tour, how to manage the media and manage getting around the clubhouse and practice rounds, that sort of thing, and then also on the golf course I want to learn how my game can improve and what area of my game don’t match up to other players and try to see where I can get the most use out of my practice.”
Danielson will tee off the first round on Thursday at 2:09 p.m. off of the first tee alongside Bronte Law and Stephanie Meadow.
Joining Danielson on the inaugural events sponsor invite list is Carly Booth and Selanee Henderson. Ladies European Tour player Booth, a native of Scotland, is a two-time winner on the LET. In 11 starts on the LPGA she has made five cuts.
Henderson is a Walla Walla Native American and a Symetra Tour golfer. Henderson has five career top-10 finishes on the Symetra Tour and a career-best finish of T2 in 2015.
FIRST ROUND FEATURED PAIRINGS
Off the tenth tee at 8:47 a.m. 10-time LPGA winner Paula Creamer, World No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn and World No. 5 In Gee Chun
Off the first tee at 1:47 p.m. — Four-time LPGA winner and major champion World No. 8 Brooke Henderson, crowd favorite Lizette Salas and Australian Minjee Lee
“I think this year is really, really competitive. Even when I played great golf in a few weeks, I still finish second or third. But it’s fun.”
- Ariya Jutanugarn on the state of the LPGA
“I think it’s great for women’s golf to be here to showcase our talents but also to be able to interact with the Oneida culture. It’s just been incredible. I think it’s a great sharing of cultures.”
- Casey Danielson on playing at the inaugural Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic and going on a tour of the Oneida Nation reservation
“I’m so proud of her for being out here and for doing this. She’s definitely been an inspiration.”
- Danielson on playing alongside Stanford teammate Mariah Stackhouse this week
Ariya Jutanugarn has the most wins on the LPGA of any player in the last two seasons with six – the next closest players are Lydia Ko and Ha Na Jang with four apiece.
In 2017, Jutanugarn has nine top-10 finishes this season including a win at the Manulife LPGA Classic and three runner-up finishes.
Jutanugarn leads the LPGA in birdies with 236 and is second in number of under-par rounds with 44.
In May, Danielson received the Dinah Shore Trophy recognizing the most well-rounded female college golfer in the country.
Danielson has also qualified to play the U.S. Women’s Open next week.
2017 LPGA rookie Mariah Stackhouse was teammates with Danielson at Stanford when they won the 2015 NCAA Championship.
The last time a player won a tournament in their home state was Cristie Kerr at the 2015 CME Group Tour Championship.
The last time a sponsor invite won an LPGA tournament was Lydia Ko at the 2013 CN Canadian Women’s Open.